New York mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday announced that he would appoint First Lady Chirlane McCray as co-chair of a task force on coronavirus racial inequality.
De Blasio will form the “Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity” as part of the city’s plan to reopen businesses that have been closed during the pandemic. Many of New York’s poorest zip codes have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, with black and Hispanic patients dying at higher rates than white residents.
“The economic and racial disparities that have been made so clear by this crisis, we knew about them before,” de Blasio, who was elected mayor six years ago, said at a press conference. “A powerful, painful exclamation point has been put on them by this crisis.”
McCray’s appointment to the task force has raised eyebrows amid rumors that she is planning a run for the presidency of New York’s Brooklyn borough.
“This is political. I wish de Blasio would stop doing this,” City Councilman Robert Holden (D., Queens) told theÂ New York Post. “Let her win the Brooklyn borough presidency on her own merits.”
McCray has presided over ThriveNYC, an initiative designed to improve the city’s mental health care, which has spent over $1 billion since its founding in 2015. Between 2015 and 2018, the number of police complaints in the city involving mentally disturbed people rose 23 percent, and the number of mentally ill homeless individuals rose by over 2,000 over the same period.